A prolific goalscorer in recent years who has demonstrated an all-round ability when it comes to finding the back of the net, Shane Smeltz is a key component of the All Whites attacking arsenal. After several disappointing seasons early in his career Smeltz has grown dramatically in stature and form the last few years. The most recent campaign was his most prolific scoring an all-time A-League season record 19 goals, including eight goals in the first five matches, to blitz the competition’s scoring charts. In doing so Smeltz became the first player to earn the A-League’s top scorers crown in consecutive seasons.
Smeltz also scored an impressive eight goals in five 2010 FIFA World Cup™ qualifiers in the Oceania zone to be his team’s top scorer in qualifying and one of the top marksman in the world during the current campaign. When Smeltz scored against New Caledonia, it marked the sixth international in a row in which he found the net, equalling a 30-year-old national team record.
Though born in Goppingen, Germany, to parents with US and British backgrounds respectively, Smeltz returned to New Zealand prior to his first birthday. After a number of years in the English lower leagues, Smeltz returned to form on the international stage with a brace against Wales in mid-2007 in a match that could be defined as a watershed in the career of the ace Kiwi marksman. A stuttering club career burst into life at the same time with Smeltz hooking up with coach Ricki Herbert at Wellington Phoenix in the Australian A-League.
Since then the personal honours at club and international level have flowed. Smeltz' nine goals in 2008 earned him second spot on the A-league top-scorers chart but the following season he won the Golden Boot award with 12 goals in the 21-match season. In doing so he became the first Kiwi to ever claim such a prize in 30 years of the Australian national competition. A move to Australian glamour side Gold Coast United, saw the goal ratio get even better for Smeltz, with the 19-goal haul helping the club to third in their inaugural season. The goal avalanche has seen Smeltz claim two successive Oceania Player of the Year titles over the last two years, as well as being named New Zealand Footballer of the Year.
Prior to the FIFA Confederations Cup South Africa 2009, Smeltz scored the opener in a 4-3 loss to world champions Italy in a friendly. Smeltz then figured prominently in all three matches at South Africa 2009, culminating in being named player of the match in New Zealand's scoreless draw against Iraq in the final group match.
Smeltz' link with Celtic's Chris Killen will be vital to New Zealand's success at the tournament in attack, with the duo, along with new boy Rory Fallon, looking dangerous throughout the historic second-leg play-off against Bahrain.